Patrick Reusse: Wolves' Ridnour displays look of a savior

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 8, 2012 - 1:13 AM

 The veteran has managed to survive and thrive despite playing shooting guard.

hide

Wolves guard Luke Ridnour moved the ball up the court in the fourth quarter during his 22-point performance against the Trail Blazers.

Photo: Jeff Wheeler, ALL

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

The Timberwolves signed free agent J.J. Barea to a four-year, $16 million contract Dec. 12. It was early in the training camp for this shortened season, and there was an immediate question:

What does adding Barea to rookie Ricky Rubio mean for Luke Ridnour's future with the team?

The public stance from the Wolves was that they could use three point guards with the compact schedule, but it seemed unreasonable that Ridnour -- a nine-year veteran set to turn 31 -- would be able to handle limited minutes as a third-string point guard.

Coach Rick Adelman was extra concerned with the Wolves' ballhandling and talked about the possibility of putting a pair of point guards in the backcourt for stretches.

Those stretches have turned out to be large hunks of every game, with Ridnour serving as close to a savior for this club. He has shot the ball well, he has taken over a good share of the ballhandling and, somehow, he has managed to survive defensively against taller, thicker off guards.

On Wednesday night, Portland was at Target Center and opened with 6-8 Nicolas Batum as the off guard. This meant Ridnour would be giving away a half-foot in size, 30 pounds in heft and who knows what in vertical.

When the game was over, Ridnour had 22 points and five assists and Batum had nine points and one assist.

"Luke's a solid player, and tonight he made big shots,'' Adelman said. "They were switching the pick-and-rolls, trying to force Kevin [Love] to roll to the basket. Luke got aggressive and shot the jumper over their big [defender].''

Barea was hurt in the second game of the season and hasn't been a big factor. Adelman went with Ridnour as his starting point guard for the first seven games. The Wolves' new legion of fans had adopted Rubio and grumbled that he should be the starter.

That didn't happen until Game 11, and then Adelman put Rubio and Ridnour together in the backcourt. They have started 28 of 30 games since then -- the two exceptions being games missed by Ridnour to be with an infant son dealing with illness.

"The great thing about Luke is that he is solid defensively,'' Adelman said. "We always put him on someone taller. He plays smart and fights the guy.''

Ridnour went 8-for-16 from the field, 3-for-6 on threes. That was the same number of threes made by the Trail Blazers in 23 attempts.

Even though they were satisfied jacking up jumpers, the Blazers remained within 90-84 with six minutes left. Ridnour hit a jumper to put the lead at eight, then blocked a shot by Wes Matthews, came away a with rebound and missed a layup in a stretch of three seconds. The crowd announced at 17,118 was in a schizophrenic burst of cheers and groans, before Gerald Wallace's jumper cut the lead back to 92-86 with 4 minutes left.

Ridnour followed with the game's biggest bucket: a three to put the lead at nine with 3:21 left. The Wolves got home free for a 106-94 victory that put them in the last playoff spot (eighth) in the West.

The Lakers are coming to town Friday, but Adelman is a coach fixated on what's directly in front of him. This was a chance to win a game, so Love went the whole 24 minutes in the second half and 44:34 for the night. Ridnour played 21 minutes in the second half and 37 for the game.

Ridnour was the guard running the pick-and-roll with Love when the game was being decided.

"They were switching on the pick-and-roll, and that gave me some open looks,'' Ridnour said. "Luckily, some of them went in.''

Ridnour is as soft-spoken as a pro athlete can get. He got caught up in the train wreck of 2010-11 in his first season in Minnesota and didn't do much.

Many followers of the Wolves were ready to send him on his way after Barea was signed.

Adelman was not, and undersized Luke has been a big asset: handling and shooting the ball and, remarkably, as a defender against the Nicolas Batums of the world.

Patrick Reusse can be heard noon-4 weekdays on 1500-AM. • preusse@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Houston 23 FINAL
Pittsburgh 30
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Denver
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Chicago 98 FINAL
Cleveland 107
New Orleans 88 FINAL
Washington 84
Milwaukee 120 FINAL
New York 107
Philadelphia 88 FINAL
Brooklyn 99
Charlotte 114 FINAL
Atlanta 117
Sacramento 99 FINAL
San Antonio 106
Memphis 103 FINAL
Dallas 108
Tampa Bay 2 FINAL
Edmonton 3
Arkansas State 10/21/14 7:00 PM
Louisiana
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Montreal 10/24/14 5:30 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 10/24/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Winnipeg
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Which local team are you currently most excited about?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close